Personal Injury, Estate Planning, Real Estate Lawyer FAQs
Below are common questions we receive from clients.
How do I know if I need an attorney?
Ask us. Call or email us and describe your situation. We can let you know if we can help you. If we can, we are usually able to schedule an appointment for you within three days.
What should I do if I am involved in an automobile accident?
If there are injuries or any significant damage to a vehicle, call the police immediately. At the accident scene, do not make any statements as to who was at fault in the accident. Get the other driver’s name, address, telephone number and insurance information.
If you or any occupants of your vehicle were injured, you should seek medical attention at once. Be sure to fully describe your injuries to the medical personnel.
Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as possible. Do not make any statements to either your insurance company or the other driver’s insurance company without consulting your attorney. Statements made to your insurance company can be obtained by the other side and possibly used against you.
As soon as possible after the accident, write down what you recall about weather conditions, road conditions, vehicle speeds, vehicle locations, etc. The best time to record such information is when it is fresh in your mind.
If you have suffered injuries in the accident, you should keep a daily record of how you are feeling, where and what kind of pain you are experiencing, activities you had planned or scheduled, but were unable to do, etc. Keep copies of all hospital and medical bills related to the accident.
Never sign a release without consulting an attorney. Some insurance companies will suggest that you are better off settling your claim without an attorney. That is simply not true. Though no attorney can guarantee a result, you will almost always receive a significantly better settlement if you are represented by a competent, experienced attorney.
What is the difference between full tort coverage and limited tort coverage and which should I have?
If you elect full tort on your auto insurance policy, you are not limited in recovering noneconomic damages (for example, compensation for your pain and suffering) if you are injured in an auto accident as a result of someone else’s negligence.
If you select limited tort, you can recover your economic damages, that is, your lost wages and your medical and hospital bills, to the extent they are not covered by insurance. You cannot recover noneconomic damages unless you have sustained a “serious injury, which is defined as a death, serious impairment of a body function or permanent serious disfigurement.”
Many of the common types of injuries sustained in auto accidents are generally deemed to not be “serious injuries”. Cervical strain and sprain (whiplash) can be very painful and can last months or even years. Yet, if you have selected the limited tort option, you may not be able to be compensated for your pain and suffering, inconvenience and loss of enjoyment of life, even though the accident was not your fault.
Before you give up your right to be compensated for your injuries, ask your attorney or insurance agent to fully explain the advantages and disadvantages of full tort and limited tort. In most cases, the minimal savings you will realize on your insurance premium will not be worth the significant right you are surrendering by electing limited tort.
Do I need an attorney when I buy a house?
Yes. For most people, their house is the single biggest investment they will ever make. You should have an attorney review your agreement of sale before you sign it. If you sign an agreement of sale before consulting an attorney, be sure that your agreement contains an attorney review clause which generally allows you three days to have the agreement reviewed.
While real estate agents can be very helpful in drafting your agreement of sale using standard forms, they are not attorneys and do not always fully understand the terms of the agreement.
You should also have a qualified real estate attorney search the title to your house, provide title insurance and conduct the closing.
While a title company can also perform these services, they cannot do it as well as an attorney. Attorneys are more equipped to address problems with the title and with the property, itself.
The fee you pay for title insurance is standardized and is based on the purchase price of your house. You should pay the same for your title insurance whether you obtain it through an attorney or a title company. And, since many attorneys do not charge a fee if they are providing the title insurance, you can get title insurance and legal representation for the same price, a service title companies cannot provide.